Dangerous driving is an offence which can be applied to a broad range of situations. There are two main elements to this offence, both of which constitute dangerous driving. Firstly, if someone’s driving is clearly lacking in competency and is considered to be hazardous as a result, this would constitute dangerous driving. For this to be argued, individuals who are considered to be both competent and safe drivers would have to describe the driving as dangerous.
Secondly, if there is a fault with your car, which is potentially dangerous, you can be charged with dangerous driving. When being charged on these grounds, the competency of the driving is not what is taken into account. If the vehicle is clearly unsafe for road use, this is what the charge is based on. For these charges, dangerous is defined as causing serious damage to property or nearly injuring someone.
In order to be prosecuted for this offence, you must be issued with a Notice of Intended Prosecution. It is important to bear in mind that there are a range of defences which can be argued to counter this charge. Two common defences are duress and necessity. To argue duress, you must demonstrate that you were unlawfully pressured into driving dangerously. For necessity, you must demonstrate that someone else’s driving and/or actions made it necessary for you to drive in a dangerous manner.
Dangerous driving cases are all relative to the individual situation. As a result, it is important to find a solicitor who can analyse the details and help you with the specifics of your case, so that you can develop a coherent defence. In court, the punishments are dependent on the nature of each individual case, which makes good legal assistance crucial. If taken to a Crown Court, the maximum punishment is a prison sentence of two years, an unlimited fine and an extended retest. There is also a mandatory disqualification from driving. If taken to a Magistrates Court, the punishments are slightly less severe. The maximum punishment is a six month prison sentence, a fine of up to £5,000 and a driving ban.
As of December 2012, a new law was introduced which fills the grey area between dangerous driving and causing death by careless or dangerous driving. In order to be charged with this offence, your driving must be defined as dangerous. This is judged by the same criteria as standard dangerous driving offences. Serious injury is defined as physical harm. For this law, it is defined similarly to grievous bodily harm (GBH). The punishment for this offence will depend on the context and the nature of the incident. The maximum punishment is a five year prison sentence.
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